JPN Putrajaya obstructed and further denied rights of the 4 stateless siblings after false promise to assist in confirming their M’sian citizenship
20 October 2023
We refer to the press statement issued by the National Registration Department (“JPN”) yesterday that claims that the 4 stateless siblings “refused to cooperate” in resolving their citizenship issue.
The 4 stateless siblings; Aziq 24, Azreen 22, Azzahra 12 and Azalea 9, went to JPN Putrajaya yesterday to obtain acknowledgment of their Malaysian citizenship. They went upon the invitation of JPN itself, made through a press release on Tuesday evening.
Shockingly, not only were they denied assistance, but JPN has now maliciously resorted to defamatory statements in order to shift the blame upon the 4 siblings who have suffered for years due to JPN’s own wrongdoings and administrative failures.
It is blatantly false that there were insufficient details of the parents’ marriage as claimed by JPN in their statement. A copy of the marriage certificate, which was certified true under seal, was submitted to JPN officials yesterday.
The JPN also added unnecessary and unlawful conditions by requiring the application to be made by a person who is already a citizen. There is no legal reason why the siblings themselves or any stateless individuals for that matter cannot make this application themselves. The Constitution and laws impose no such condition. Those qualified for citizenship under article 14(1)(b) of the Federal Constitution are entitled themselves to submit the application to JPN. There is no need for a “middleman” with Malaysian citizenship to apply on their behalf. The siblings are being denied their rights due to unlawful and excessive bureaucratic requirements.
As such, it is false that the 4 siblings were uncooperative with JPN. On the contrary, JPN came with baseless objections, making the process fraught and difficult.
What transpired yesterday was truly appalling; the siblings who came to the JPN believing that they will get their citizenship issue resolved were instead met with officials bent on making the process difficult and further denying their rights.
From the outset yesterday, JPN attempted to deny them the assistance of their lawyer to fill up the forms and in discussing with officers. It was only after repeated pleas that JPN finally allowed their lawyer to assist the siblings. What was the need for this?
Throughout the process in JPN yesterday, instead of offering advice, multiple officers including the Director General of JPN himself, Zamri Bin Misman, continuously harassed the 4 siblings by accusing them of making the process difficult by involving lawyers and blamed them for not getting the “proper advice” from JPN before holding a press conference. At one point, even with lawyers present, they attempted to hand over the foreigner’s citizenship application form which was clearly the wrong form as the siblings are Malaysians as of right.
What is JPN’s motive in misleading or obstructing the siblings, despite knowing that they are seeking Malaysian citizenship as of right through their Malaysian father and not as foreigners?
All this despite the clear fact that the siblings qualify for Malaysian citizenship by virtue of their Malaysian father, in accordance with Article 14(1)(b) and 2nd Schedule para 1(a) of the Constitution. Their Malaysian father and their Indonesian mother were married prior to the birth of the siblings. As legitimate children, they inherit the citizenship of their father under the Constitution.
As JPN and the government are fully responsible for the plight of the siblings, including denial of schooling to Azzahra and Azalea, it was their solemn duty to facilitate and honestly assist them yesterday. It was dreadful for these children, especially the two youngest ones, that this did not happen.
The treatment received by the 4 siblings when dealing with the JPN is inexcusable. One can only imagine how stateless persons is treated by them when lawyers are not present. It is truly alarming that JPN officers act with such impunity and disregard of the Constitution.
We urge the government to act swiftly to resolve the citizenship woes of the 4 siblings as they have been denied their rights for too long and their future is in jeopardy. It is especially so for the two youngest siblings, Azzahra and Azalea, who are not in school due to JPN’s refusal to recognise them as Malaysian. We further demand an explanation from the Government and Home Ministry over the unacceptable treatment meted out by JPN officers yesterday towards the 4 siblings and the failure to resolve the matter.
Irrespective of the difficulties created by JPN, the siblings have submitted the application to JPN yesterday, with all details necessary under the law included, and JPN has acknowledged receipt. We urge JPN to process and acknowledge the siblings as Malaysian citizens immediately. There are no grounds for further delay or to keep Azzahra and Azalea out of school any further.
Lawyers for Liberty